I’VE never known a season with so much quality attacking football. I’ve never known a season where Liverpool are awarded so few penalties, especially at home.
I’m prepared to allow for a tactical idea — that sides tend to stand off Liverpool’s attackers and look to block rather than engage. I’m prepared to acknowledge that perhaps that is a factor. But it can’t be the only factor.
The key factor, I think, is referees are determined on a subconscious level not to be tricked either by elite players or by an intimidating atmosphere into making incorrect decisions. Liverpool’s atmosphere for a side 19th at 12:30 after a European tie may not be all that intimidating, but that is why I think the whole thing is on a subconscious level.
It is hurting The Reds. As was said earlier in the season — we should get to win 1-0. We should get to win without playing well. We should be allowed that bit of luck, a bad decision by an opposing player or a referee, to get you ahead in a game like this one. Liverpool weren’t very good today, but that should be no barrier to getting a result. It isn’t in at least 60 per cent of Premier League games played in any random weekend.
Today was very much that day. Liverpool were the architects of their own downfall against West Brom last weekend; a few weeks back they chose their fate at Goodison Park and worked towards it. But today was the day when the referee gives you something, you get away with being offside and banging it in, you get something, anything you shouldn’t and you get the points.
But it wasn’t to be.
It was to be was a physical encounter where it was clear Stoke were going to have a go for it early, only to fade in both halves and be reduced to hugely concerning but very sporadic forays towards the Liverpool goal. Last week at West Brom it could be argued they are a better side than their league position. This week it can be argued Stoke are a more spirited side than their league position. Greater quality and they may well have punished a disjointed Liverpool.
On our post-match show new contributor Jordan Keeble said that Liverpool looked “out of sync”. Sync is an abbreviated word, reduced from “synchronisation”. That is exactly what was lacked across the pitch. Liverpool were insufficiently synchronised.
The staggering thing about sync is you only truly notice it when it isn’t there. When Liverpool attack, when Liverpool slay, as we know they can, the fluidity is remarkable but today that was the main thing that was missing. Danny Ings, Alberto Moreno, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold all toiled at times; Nathaniel Clyne did well when he came on but very much as a bit of an island, not as part of the Liverpool machine.
Liverpool work a lot on their synchronisation. Every now and again something will come out about Liverpool’s training, whether positive or negative in the mouth of the teller, about how much work they do on attacking shape. Today, in its absence, you were truly able to acknowledge how valuable that work is and how it is that work, which has been ongoing since the summer of 2016, has got us where we are today.
Well, that and excellent players. Today’s game spoke volumes for Sadio Mane, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andy Robertson. Even for Alexander-Arnold as a right back. Those four come through today with their reputations enhanced. Moreno didn’t toil as Gomez or Ings did but he now very much looks the second-class option in a first-class side. He won’t be the first left back a Liverpool team has evolved beyond. These three lads though have played their part in this campaign and all should have second acts — only Gomez, you feel, has his at Anfield when the dust settles.
But we’ve done this before. Written a footballer off only to have Jurgen Klopp and his team get into them and find a way to get them back in sync. It could well happen again.
What today’s point suggests is that something else will happen again — Liverpool in the Champions League. There are now three routes of entry for The Reds. Stopping Chelsea next week, beating Brighton last day or winning the whole thing. That relies on Chelsea remaining perfect too.
While Liverpool weren’t their sleek, beautifully dressed selves today, the feeling persists that the qualification could well be a belt and braces affair. A result against Chelsea, a win against Brighton and that huge silver pot seem as likely as any other outcome right now, as long as The Reds can keep motoring, can keep going, can get the synchronised lads on the pitch and as fit as they can be.
At some point they’ll need a bit more luck, they’ll need one or two refereeing decisions to go their way. Let’s hope we’re going to see it evened up over the remainder of the campaign. That’s what’s meant to happen. Let’s hope we’re going to see Penaltypool back. It’d be lovely to have a spate of them. Until then though let’s just keep pushing. Wednesday and then hopefully three more big pushes.
Nearly there my lovely boys, just stay in formation. Slay.
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— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 28 April 2018
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100 per cent Stoke get that handball if its against us.
Two things, stonewall pen every time and the linesman guessed for offside against Ings
It’s doing my head in just now – the wildly inconsistent and regularly incompetent refereeing of our matches.
We have a busy body Lino costing us points against Spurs but one who doesn’t see a bodycheck against Ings. A penalty given to the bluenoses for contact in the box but a yellow card for Sadio when he’s hacked down.
A fucking away goal given in a European Cup semifinal for a ball to hand, but nothing given today.
It’s back to the observation about reffing the game in context, managing the decisions in context.
It’s not the Truman Show or The Hunger Games. It’s just footy.
You’re a Ref or Linesman. Just do your fucking job and decide if it’s a foul or not or offside or not. It’s not your job to lay down a narrative.
How can it be that a side as good as us at attack have got half the penalties in a full season as Spurs got in ten minutes at Anfield. ???
( wipes froth from mouth)
Anyway it’ll still be sound. Mo will break the record next time out against Chelsea.
Perfectly summed up. I can’t remember a season where we have had decisions go against us like this one. Tuesday night, it’s a penalty against us. Today, or against United when Valencia stops a cross with his arm, it’s no pen.
It’s legitimately “one of those”. Of course we should get a penalty, in the same way the Roma pen wasn’t a pen. Let’s hope we do get a big decision soon. Also hard to disagree with the view on those filling in – what this season has illustrated is that the first dozen or so players are collectively equal to or better than anyone in Europe, but we don’t have the strength in depth. Klopp and co will know that. It’d be great if Brewster, Grujic, Woodburn et al step up but we’ll also need to spend a few quid. And it was Stoke: dreadful, muscular, dreary Stoke. Good luck to them, but I can’t pretend I’d mourn their relegation.
Saw Glen Johnson on their bench. Made me think how very Liverpool it is to build up injured players in our minds into world beaters. Johnson was never as good as he was in our minds during his injury spells. Hendo’s best games were the ones he missed at the end of 13/14. All the lads who were sidelined were absolute monsters today, except Gomez who actually played and went from future captain to the subject of dickheads heaping pressure after every missed pass.
Hopefully, the boys on the pitch will be our best players by a long shot on Wednesday. The stuff of legend awaits.
Frustrating that we’re insisting on making life a lot harder for ourselves than it needs to be.
4 points dropped on the last 2 weeks against teams who will be relegated (Stoke will be relegated).
I think we’ll secure it next week v Chelsea. That said they’ll be flying and confident, but that might actually work for us.
Flying? They’ve been scraping victories against dross.
They’re putting wins together in sequence so I’d say that’s flying. Regardless of opposition, they’re doing it without playing particularly well too.
They’re confidence is flying, even if they’re not looking convincing at times on the pitch.
Even after taking into account an inevitable hangover after the intensity of the Roma game, and the changes to the line-up…and even the decisions going against us, it’s so gutting to not put away a team with the worst away record in the league. Still think we’ll do the business, but we’re giving ourselves something to worry about, potentially until the last day of the season
We’re beyond the point where we can even mention the officiating. Don’t talk about fouls, offsides or penalties. We’re not going to get anything. Nothing. It’s got to a standard so low that the officials may as well not be there. Scoop out the insides of plastic dummy, fill it with Primula Cheese and let it run the fucking line. That’s where we’re at.
There’s this tiresome argument that we ‘shouldn’t need’ a penalty to beat Stoke. Sound logic that. The rules of the game shouldn’t be applied because the beneficiaries “shouldn’t need it”. Lambert can do one as well. Funny how these managers of small-time clubs always want the rules suspended when they play us. They can then return to moaning about how the top four get all the decisions. Enjoy relegation you bunch of alehousers. Hopefully Allen and Crouch can find a different club. Can’t believe Allen plays for them.
Ahh Stoke the joke of a team. I noticed the ex-Liverpool players on their bench and on the field. Crouch, Allen, Adams and Glen fucking Johnson. Did I miss any? How did we have those players in the team? They will lose to Palace I think.
Salah is wonderful but has this tendency to forget he has a right foot as well. I wonder how many goals he would have scored had he been as skillful with his right.
I’m glad we didn’t lose. A point here and there is important for the running. Chelsea are yet to catch up, but we might have the final say.
Real Madrid is going to destroy Bayern at the Bernabeu. Never saw so many injuries in one match or so many superstars on the bench and on the field that were playing second fiddle to RM. So most likely RM’s 11th bid.
As for us, Roma awaits. I wish our players don’t get hurt there. I think they will rough up Salah and Mane if they get the chance, especially if they are on the back foot.
Expect more dubious ref calls against us. This is Italy after all and they’re desperate to win now.
I hope those of you who are traveling don’t lose your bearings when provoked. All it takes is one numpty on either side to get it started.
Wish Jurgen gets the Red Machine in full effect for Wednesday night.
You can guarantee that if all the things the officials turned down had been the opposite way then they all would have been awarded. Time and again our players were man handled in the box, actually wrestled. I seem to recall the media making a campaign out of Skrtel when he did this. Mo, was abused all game. at one stage his shirt was pulled that far it was wider than the big flag on the Kop and yet the Marriner waved play on.
Another shite day of officiating to add to all the previous ones so far in the Premier League. So far the oppo get away with everything and much more that we get penalised for a total diluted version of. In fact yesterday you can leave the floor, studs up and still not booked. In fact Karius was brought down by an outstretched leg of Crouch, that was thigh high and you can bet if Stoke scored as the ball went across the goal, then Marriner would have let it stand.
We are not just suffering luck with officiating this season we are being blatantly cheated by what is happening in every game.
I’m not so confident anymore that the whole thing is on a subconscious level… It’s just too weird. Consistently incorrect or 50/50 decisions going against us this season. I don’t know who is responsible for maintaining the integrity of refereeing in the premier league, but I can’t believe no one has at least raised their eyebrows at this point.
If the threshold question right now is would I be surprised if in a few years time there were revelations that officials were pressured into influencing the results of matches in the 17/18 season, my answer would be no, I would not be surprised. I mean I hope it is just incompetence and unconscious bias… But it’s just too weird.